Vaping’s A Good Thing, Perhaps We Should Subsidise it?

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There’s a basic problem we’ve got with this idea that we can rule the world, force it into our desired shape. Which is that we’re in a second best world. Plans don’t necessarily work out, people are ‘ornery and just won’t damn well do what they’re told. It’s, well, it’s a second best world:

It’s important to understand that we live in a second best world. As a grand idea sure, if every government made exactly the right decision at exactly the right time then life would be better. Now, everyone put a hand up who claims that every government is even capable of making that right decision? Really? Somalia? Venezuela? Zimbabwe? The opposition party in whatever election you’re just about to fight? None of us does believe that fallible human beings are going to make exactly that correct decision every time. Freidrich Hayek even gained his Nobel for proving that they never can have the necessary information to do so, even if they were the otherwise perfect rulers of the rest of us. We are, thus, in a second best world. That perfect solution isn’t available to us, and we’ve got to just rub along with what is possible.

Thus vaping. Perhaps it’s true that no one should ever touch the demon weed. But is that how to deal with the real world?

So, tobacco use. Does smoking kill? It most surely does, smoking cigarettes will take prematurely from this world some one-third of those who indulge. At least one-third. So, what would we like to do here? Insist upon that perfection where no one partakes of the tobacco leaf? Or get as close to doing no harm as we can? My answer would be that we should be going for harm reduction. Sure, no one has yet proven that vaping, or e-cigarettes, causes no harm. I don’t expect anyone will either, the drug nicotine itself is harmful. Yet, we really are very certain indeed that ingesting or inhaling nicotine along with steam is less harmful than doing so with the other few hundred carcinogens in the smoke from burnt tobacco. Thus, at this first stage, vaping is less harmful than full-on smoking.

So, therefore, we should allow vaping, obviously. But should we go further?

Vaping reduces the harm done by tobacco and nicotine — thus, banning it isn’t the way to make this world that better a place.

Well, if you believe the usual stuff from PHE about the costs of smoking to the NHS perhaps we should subsidize it? Smoking costs the NHS £y – therefore, if vaping reduces harm then perhaps we should subsidise it? The subsidy being £x, the costs to the NHS of £y being higher than the costs £z, smoking costs with vaping, even after we add £z and £ x to give the total costs of the vaping subsidy and the NHS costs of smoking with vaping?

I don’t btw, insist that the costs work out that way. I do, however, insist that that’s the right question to be asking. And that it isn’t being asked is what is wrong, isn’t it?

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Andria Duncan
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As good as this article is, I have to take exception to the blanket statement that “nicotine is harmful.” So is caffeine, in EXACTLY the same way, and yet no one is having hissyfits about all those sodas and energy drinks that people of ALL ages — even teens and kids! — routinely pour down their gullets. WATER is harmful, if you breathe it into your lungs, or throw it on a grease fire, or even if you drink too much of it! In fact, there probably isn’t even ONE thing on this “2nd best world” that ISN’T potentially harmful…… Read more »

timworstall
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timworstall

Much of that is true. Yet we do tend to think that nicotine is harmful even in vaping quantities. So it is still a little different from water….

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

LD50 for nicotine is around 50mg. For caffeine it’s around 15g, so a 300-fold difference.

Andria Duncan
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But that “LD” is absolutely wrong. I knew someone who vaped 80mg, and it certainly didn’t kill him! It didn’t even make him sick. He did it because he’d been a 4pk a day smoker, was a long-haul trucker, and thus had few opportunities to vape, so he needed to get plenty of nicotine when he COULD vape. You have to remember that pretty much all the “stats” about nicotine, smoking (which they conflated THEN and still do!), all of it, are outright lies foisted on the public by Tobacco Control, whose sole aim is social engineering — basically a… Read more »

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

It’s an LD50 – that dose sufficient to kill half of those who ingest it: 0.5-1.0 mg/kg*. So a hefty male who’d experienced long term exposure to nicotine and hence built up a degree of tolerance could consume a dose that would kill a slightly-built female (say). But (almost) no-one dies of nicotine poisoning (though there’s undoubtedly a long-term effect of raised blood pressure, etc.) – you’d have to swallow a bottle of the liquid used in vaping to do that – they die from the carcinogens in the smoke, which is why vaping is so much safer than smoking.… Read more »

Andria Duncan
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They’re finding, on further examination, that the traditional “LD50” dose is MUCH too low; it would in fact take a great deal more to cause death than has previously been supposed, due to the fact that ingesting nicotine causes vomiting — it would actually have to be a fairly massive dose, to kill you before you vomited it up.

PJHH
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PJHH

Except the costs of excise foregone, increased state pensions of all those livivg longer, and costs of treating those other things people living longer suffer from are going to far outweigh whatever costs there are for treating smokers.

Not that discouraging smoking is a bad thing, but predicating any argument based on cost alone is going to fail.

Andrew Carey
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Andrew Carey

What if y is a negative number? I can’t figure out which way the subsidy argument runs if that is the case.